Pro tennis served at Cedar Hill

Patrick Flint leads locals in South Island tennis tourney

Patrick Flint returns a ball in his qualification win over Tony Ilesu at the South Island Tennis Tournament. Hosted at Cedar Hill Rec. Centre

Patrick Flint returns a ball in his qualification win over Tony Ilesu at the South Island Tennis Tournament. Hosted at Cedar Hill Rec. Centre

With top-seeded tennis players coming to Victoria from off-Island this week, Patrick Flint was forced to spend the weekend playing qualifying games for the South Island Indoor Challenge.

The professional tennis tournament happens at Cedar Hill rec centre, beginning Friday and ending Sunday.

For the second straight year, Flint was successful in securing a spot in the main draw.

And with $15,000 in prize money, the 27-year-old is hoping to earn as much as possible by making the finals.

“It’s great to have a money tournament here in Victoria. Victoria players are accustomed to travelling elsewhere to play in pro tournaments.”

That includes locals Nick Coutts and Rob Fuhrman, who are also in Friday’s final 12.

Flint won two games, Saturday and Sunday, his latter win over Tony Ilesu in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. Fuhrman also qualified on Sunday.

“I’m definitely happy to play in the qualifying round. I haven’t played tournament tennis since the summer,” Flint said.

The 2001 Oak Bay grad played for the University of Hartford and has been a favourite on the local tennis scene, with multiple wins at Oak Bay’s New Year’s Classic and the Victoria and Island opens.

Last year, Flint won his first match in the main draw but lost in the quarterfinal to Nima Roshan, the tournament’s eventual champion. Roshan, an Australian, returns to this year’s tourney ranked 764th in the world. Also in the draw are Joel Kielbowicz (893), Clement Reix (273) and Rik De Voest (184), among others.

Flint and Coutts usually pair up for doubles tournaments though this weekend is singles only.

Tickets are $30 in advance, available at Cedar Hill rec centre and Courtside Sports. Kids 12 and under are free. Tickets at the door are $40. For more information, visit www.islandtennis.net.